Scotland has so much to offer — and believe it or not, you can find the best of every Scottish experience right here in Stirling. In this blog, University of Stirling student ambassador Achilleas, explains why Stirling is like its own miniature Scotland.
If you had to name a country famous for its scenic landscapes, its mountains surrounded by lakes, its rivers and endless greenery, that country would be Scotland. And if you had to name a university containing all the above, that would be the University of Stirling.
Famous for its gorgeous campus that includes all the main landmarks of the Scottish nature, it can be easily characterised as a miniature of the whole of Scotland. That means foreign students like myself can experience the Scottish dream through the University of Stirling.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the five main characteristics of Scotland which are the numerous lakes, animals, old monuments, mountains and rivers — and explain how you can find all those things (and more) in Stirling.
1. Lakes (or “lochs”)
One of the most iconic characteristics of the Scottish landscape is its lakes (or “lochs”). There are tens of thousands of lochs of various sizes across Scotland (around 30,000).
Some are surrounded by mountains, and some by villages. But one of them is surrounded by students, lecture theatres and student accommodation at the University of Stirling campus.
Airthrey Loch is located in the heart of the campus, separating the student accommodation from the main Atrium of the University. The approximately 2.5km circular path around the loch is ideal for walks in between lectures, exercising and running, as well as attending various events often hosted around the water body.
Airthrey Loch is smaller in size than some other lochs, yet equally as beautiful. It gives you the same feeling of relaxation and calmness. The peacefulness of the water seems to stop time, allowing the viewer to enjoy the moment for prolonged periods.
Similarly to most lochs in Scotland, Airthrey Loch is home to a variety of animals.
Students get the chance to meet squirrels, swans and different types of ducks on a daily basis when walking around the loch. However, the loch is not the only place where someone can come across different animals.
The nature of campus offers the opportunity to run into a lot of wildlife such as bunnies, foxes and even deer — all of which I have personally encountered before within the University campus.
As is the case in the rest of Scotland, animals are respected and protected and are a big part of the campus biodiversity. And who knows? If you end up being a frequent visitor of Airthrey Loch, you might run into one of Nessie’s relatives who is also enjoying the serene environment of the campus.
The wild nature in Scotland might be home to some big and unique animals like the Highland cow, but the University of Stirling doesn’t fall far behind with its fauna. The presence of the animals accounts for the biodiverse environment of the university’s campus.
Another characteristic landmark of Scotland is the old monuments and castles located all around the country.
The University of Stirling is also surrounded by these historical creations. Stirling Castle can be found in the nearby area, while the National Wallace monument is located right at the edge of the campus. The University of Stirling also has its own private castle, Airthrey Castle, located near Airthrey Loch.
If this is not dreamy enough, you would be surprised to learn that scenes from the famous drama series Outlander were shot in the surroundings of Airthrey Castle and the University’s campus.
The monuments surrounding the campus are equally as impressive and old as the ones found in the rest of Scotland, keeping the Medieval feel alive. Airthrey Castle might not be as big as some other castles, but what is even more impressive than size is being surrounded by the University’s campus and students.
Less than 10 km from the University of Stirling you’ll find the Dumyat Hill, which is equally as scenic as the Scottish Highland Hills.
From its top, the Dumyat offers a panoramic view of the meadow, the City of Stirling, Bridge of Allan, the River Forth and the University. It is a great place to go hiking, explore and spend time outdoors. Depending on the season, the colours and the views are always different but equally breath-taking.
Dumyat is very similar to the Scottish Highland Hills, as the hills are covered with vibrant green grass. Both the Dumyat and the Scottish Highlands are full of hiking trails, which are ideal for wandering around in nature.
Lastly, the Forth River with its majestic walks on the riverside, constantly reminds you of how beautiful this country is.
The river is 100 km long and has an interesting shape, with constant twists and turns. Students can have picnics next to the river and enjoy the calming flow of the water.
A fun fact about Forth River is that its level of water keeps constantly changing depending on the weather conditions.
The river Forth starts from the Scottish mainland and ends up in the sea. It is as exciting as all of the rivers across Scotland, as there are many water sports you can do if you are brave enough.